Joseph McCarthy responds to Edward R Murrow (1954)

In March 1954 American journalist Edward R Murrow delivered an editorial containing stinging criticisms of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his actions. Murrow gave McCarthy the opportunity to respond, which he did a month later:

“The Senate Investigating Committee has forced out of government, and out of important defence plants, Communists engaged in the Soviet conspiracy. And, you know, it’s interesting to note that the viciousness of Murrow’s attacks is in direct ratio to our success in digging out Communists.

Now ordinarily, I would not take time out from the important work at hand to answer Murrow. However, in this case, I feel justified in doing so because Murrow is a symbol, a leader and the cleverest of the jackal pack which is always found at the throat of anyone who dares to expose individual Communists and traitors. And I am compelled by the facts to say to you that Mr Edward R. Murrow, as far back as twenty years ago, was engaged in propaganda for Communist causes.

For example, the Institute of International Education, of which he was the Acting Director, was chosen to act as a representative by a Soviet agency to do a job which would normally be done by the Russian secret police. Mr Murrow sponsored a Communist school in Moscow. In the selection of American students and teachers who were to attend, Mr Murrow’s organisation acted for the Russian espionage and propaganda organisation known as VOKS and many of those selected were later exposed as Communists…

Now, Mr Murrow, by his own admission, was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, a terrorist organisation cited as subversive by an attorney general of the United States, who stated that it was an organisation which seeks, and I quote, “to alter the government of the United States by unconstitutional means.” Now, other government committees have had before them actors, screenwriters, motion picture producers, and others, who admitted Communist affiliations but pleaded youth or ignorance. Now, Mr Murrow can hardly make the same plea…

We Americans live in a free world, a world where we can stand as individuals, where we can go to the church of our own choice and worship God as we please, each in his own fashion, where we can freely speak our opinions on any subject, or on any man. Now whether we shall continue to so live has come to issue now. We will soon know whether we are going to go on living that kind of life, or whether we are going to live the kind of life that 800,000,000 slaves live under Communist domination. The issue is simple. It is the issue of life or death for our civilisation.

Now, Mr Murrow said on this program – and I quote – he said: “The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have given considerable comfort to the enemy.” That is the language of our statute of treason, rather strong language. If I am giving comfort to our enemies, I ought not to be in the Senate. If, on the other hand, Mr Murrow is giving comfort to our enemies, he ought not to be brought into the homes of millions of Americans by the Columbia Broadcasting System…”